Fifty-one girls experience campus life and education at the LGLA


Photo by: Alexis Cannon

Guests socialize at the Louisiana Girl’s Leadership Academy’s closing ceremony reception on June 15, 2016.

Nicholls State University hosted 51 high school students for the annual Louisiana Girls Leadership Academy as they learned leadership skills and were able to get a sneak preview of life on campus.

In addition to their educational experience, the participants stayed in the Millet Residence Hall on campus and ate their meals in Vernon F. Galliano cafeteria.

According to Laura Badeaux, director of the Louisiana Center for Women in Government and Business, the academy does not contribute money to the University, instead it gives the participants an opportunity to see what Nicholls has to offer in degree programs.
Brandie Toups, chair of LGLA, said the academy is treated like a regular summer camp out of Continuing Education. LGLA is also seen as a recruiting tool for Nicholls.

“We see this as an opportunity for these students to be recruited by the University,” Toups said. “In addition to the girls staying on campus and eating in the cafeteria, we have admissions do a recruiting presentation during the academy.”

Mass Communication major Nicole Henry, counselor for the academy said many of the girls in her group are planning to attend Nicholls for college.

“Nicholls graciously hosting this academy was a major benefit because most of the girls are approaching college and staying on a nice campus like Nicholls allowed them to see what their college experience could be like if they attended here,” Henry said.

Badeaux took over the academy in 2009 and wanted to change the event to a more educational experience rather than it being treated like any other camp at Nicholls.

Badeaux became director of the Center in 2008 and in 2009 took over the academy. Badeaux said Brandie Toups, chairperson of LGLA and herself tweak the curriculum every year according to each girl’s evaluation. This year, they did an entire session on what the participants should put on social media and how to present themselves in the future.

“We are trying to teach them responsible citizenship, public policy education and promoting themselves in public service or up the corporate ladder,” Badeaux said. “We teach that in communication, which is the foundation of leadership. There is a difference in an effective leader and a successful leader.”

Adele Boudreaux, a first-time participant of LGLA this year, said her experience was very busy because they had speakers and met a lot of people.

“Even though we didn’t have much down time, we still got to bond with everybody in our group,” Boudreaux said. “It was great to make those friendships and connections along with learning a lot from each other.”

The academy had a total of seven counselors and two junior counselors working with the attendees. The senior counselors were college-aged women and the junior counselors were once participants of the LGLA.

Henry has never been a counselor for the academy before. Henry said being a counselor has taught her patience and understanding.
“I think supervising a group of girls allowed me to see how special and unique each girl was,” Henry said. “That uniqueness meant each girl needed more or less help on certain projects.”

Activities for the participants included taking a field trip to the Governor’s mansion and meeting the state’s first lady, Donna Edwards. They also had actors to teach the girls improvising and listened to various speakers.

The keynote speaker for LGLA was Shiza Shahid. Shahid is the co-founder of the Malala fund, an organization representing Malala Yousafzai who was shot by the Taliban for her advocacy in girl’s education. Her message to the girls was for them to depend on themselves and not anyone else.

Badeaux said the academy is the most significant educational academy for young girls in Louisiana. The goal of the academy is to develop high potential leaders in community and public service through responsible citizenship.

“This is an intensive four day learning experience,” Badeaux said. “We teach in having fun but it is still a learning experience.”
Boudreaux said she would like to go back to the academy next year, just in a different role.

“I would love to attend again next year and maybe as a junior counselor,” Boudreaux said. “I think it is not so much as a repeat as it is a growing experience. The idea is to grow with the academy.”